Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Not "So Bad"

The deposition of Donald Trump and his children in his lawsuit against restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian is available online as a PDF file, and I've been reading through it, having seen some snippets in various media outlets. You could spend a lot of time sifting through it for various points, so I'm simply going to throw out a couple that stood out for me. They're answers that Mr. Trump gave to Mr. Zakarian's lawyer.

I don't understand why, why they did this [backed out of the lease for the restaurant]. I'm running for office. I obviously have credibility because I now, as it turns out, became the Republican nominee running against, we have a total of 17 people that were mostly senators and governors, highly respected people. So it's not like, you know, like I've said anything that could be so bad. Because if I said something that was so bad, they wouldn't have had me go through all of these people and win all of these primary races. And I'm pretty even in the polls or close to even in the polls right now.
And a little later:
And I've tapped into illegal immigration. I've tapped into other things, also. But, you know, when you get more votes than anybody in the history of the party, history of the party by far, more than Ronald Reagan, more than Richard Nixon, more than Dwight D. Eisenhower who won the Second World War, you know, that's pretty mainstream, when you think about it.
These are interesting to me; not because of anything that they might reveal about Mr. Trump, but because I think that they're indicative a broader way of looking at prejudice, bigotry or what have you in the modern United States. Mr. Trump says that clearly couldn't have "said something that was so bad" because if he had, he wouldn't have garnered so many votes in state primary elections in his successful bid to be the Republican presidential nominee. In other words, people who say things that are "so bad" aren't accepted by the mainstream. And so one can use mainstream acceptance, or even approval of, one's words or deeds to demonstrate that they aren't so bad.

This has the effect of placing the people who don't accept, or who disapprove of, those words - the people who do feel that they are so bad, outside of the mainstream. And this has the side effect of making acceptance of what the mainstream decides is acceptable a prerequisite for being part of the mainstream.

But perhaps more to the point, and to be a bit more specific, what Donald Trump might say about Mexican immigrants (or the children of immigrants), Moslems and the Black community don't fall into the category of "so bad" because of what those people and their allies think of those statements. They would only fall into the category of "so bad" when the overwhelmingly White base of Trump's support decides that he's gone too far for them to support him, and his standing in the polls craters.

And I think that this is the general attitude that White America has adopted about itself - that it is the best judge of when what it does harms other people. And so when it can't see the harm, then no harm has been done. Which is not unreasonable in and of itself. A lot of people have adopted the general philosophy of if they can't understand why it's a problem, then it must not be a problem. Where I think that it causes problems is in the idea that the truly prejudicial must lie outside of the mainstream; and in this the mainstream holds itself harmless, regardless of what those outside the mainstream are saying.

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